Marashiro Tanaka – Not a horrible night of pitchers, but no true aces are really going tonight. This came down to Bauer and Tanaka for me, but I like Tanaka a little better tonight. Tanaka was hurt for parts of April and June, and all of May, but has come back looking just as good as ever. He has 14 IP 2 ER 0 BB’s 15 K’s and 2 Wins in his last two starts. Other than his first two starts this year, he has been pretty solid all year with a 2.48 ERA and 39 K’s in 36 IP. He is starting to resemble the form he had last year where he had ace material with a roughly 1.00 WHIP 2.77 ERA and 141 K’s in 136.1 IP. From what I hear, his fastball has regained velocity which is getting those swings and misses vs. a lot of contact. Tonight, he is going against the Marlins offense which has been pretty hot lately, but is one that can definitely be shut down. They may have the 9th best average at .259 this year, but this isn’t helping them score runs (245 which is 25th in the MLB). Also they can definitely strikeout having the 14th most with 486 this year. It seems that they have improved in this category, however the splits really play into Tanaka’s favor as well. The strikeout rate is similar on both side of the plate for the Marlins (22.3% against righties vs. 21.5% against lefties), but their AVG, OBP, and SLG are all way down against right handed pitching and their power numbers are incredibly lower. They have hit 18 HR in 473 AB’s against lefties which is a 3.8% clip, but against righties they have hit 34 HR in 1719 AB’s which is 1.98%. Now Stanton is obviously the one doing most of the damage with the long ball, so if Tanaka can shut him down, things will be looking good. As I said tonight has some good options to pick from, but on a night where there isn’t a true ace, give me Tanaka.
Wei-Yin Chen – Chen has been pretty consistent in all of his starts this year, and it has showed with his stats. In 73 IP, he has 68 hits allowed, 18 Walks, 62 K’s, a 3.21 ERA, and 2 Wins. It would be nice to be getting some of those points from the wins, but the rest of those numbers are very good for the price that you will be getting Chen for tonight. Also, in his last 9 starts, he has pitched at least 6 innings 7 times, and going 7 or more innings 5 times. He might not be a 9.00 K/9 inning guy, but if he can go 7 innings, get like 5 or 6 K’s and a Win, he is great value. He is going against the Phillies who as everyone should know by now doesn’t do much for me offensively. They are still last in the MLB with 197 runs, they are 27th in the MLB with a .237 AVG, and have 142 BB’s which is 27th best. They may not strikeout much, (453 times which is 24th most in the MLB), but they do not get on base very much at all. Their numbers are up against lefties with a .263 AVG/.322 OBP/.378 SLG, but for one thing they still only have 8 HR in 495 AB’s against lefties which isn’t very good at all. Also with their best hitters being lefty (Revere, Utley, Howard), I don’t know if that will continue all year long, and they are going to need to string together hits to score runs. Chen is very reliable and tonight should be no exception as I expect him to shut down the Phillies.
Brian McCann – Last time I wrote about McCann he got hurt so hopefully we don’t have an injury curse with us. Being a bit more serious, I really like his matchup today against Tom Koehler as he has struggled against left handed batters this year. They are hitting with a line of .266 AVG/.349 OBP/.516 SLG with 9 HR in 128 AB’s. Righties may not be hitting the long ball against him (1 HR in 141 AB’s), but with some good left handed batters in the middle of that Yankees lineup look for a HR or two. Koehler has only given up 2 HR in 34.1 IP at home vs. 8 in 37.2 IP on the road, and has a much better average against so it isn’t a slam dunk but that righty/lefty split is pretty telling. Then there is McCann who does much better against right handed pitching. He has a line of .283 AVG/.338 OBP/.536 SLG with 8 HR in 138 AB’s which is pretty solid for a catcher. The only concern I have with him is his bad home/road splits, but it might just be a gut feeling, but I think the Yankees will score some runs tonight off Koehler. McCann is one of the best offensive catchers in the game, and is honestly a solid pick most nights anyway unless he’s going against an ace or is in a pitcher’s park
Salvador Perez – One of my go to guys for a value play if you ever need one. There are a few Royals players that I feel are underpriced, but I will gladly keep them there. Tonight they are playing the Brewers who have Kyle Lohse on the mound who has really struggled this year and is one of the cheaper pitchers tonight. Perez isn’t one to take walks as he only has 4 in 207 AB’s this year, but he has a .280 AVG against righties this year and has 6 HR in 145 AB’s against them as well. That is actually a lot of power if you compare him to other catchers at that price. His line across the board is lower on the road, but he does have 6 of his 10 HR on the road so he doesn’t lose his power. Then there is Kyle Lohse who has been really bad at home with a 8.41 ERA (33 ER in 35.1 IP), a .329 AVG against at home, and a line against righties of .345 AVG/.362 OBP/.550 SLG with 9 HR in 171 AB’s. He has given up 15 HR total on the year, so he is prone to giving them up, and Perez has above average power for a catcher. Even if he doesn’t get a HR, he is more than capable of getting a couple hits which will help him reach his value.
Prince Fielder – The Rangers have been on a roll here lately, and while Fielder hasn’t had a HR in a while, he has still been contributing. He is going against the righty Carlos Frias, who has had some major problems with left handed batters. They have a line of .370 AVG/.420 OBP/.481 SLG with 1 HR in 81 AB’s. Now I would really like a HR out of my 1B, it’s not out of the possibility especially at Texas, and he is surrounded by lefties so he can’t really be pitched around. Frias has been better on the road with only 4 ER allowed in 19 IP with a .264 AVG against him. Again, the game is at Texas though, which is one of the bigger hitter’s parks in the entire MLB so I will take my chances with that. Fielder has an amazing line against handed pitchers of .377 AVG/.437 OBP/.545 SLG with 6 HR in 154 AB’s. The HR totals are low, but he is getting a ton of hits, a ton of walks, and scoring a lot of runs (20) against them. He only has 4 of his 10 HR at home, but he hits for a better average and OBP at home as well. A Rangers stack tonight is one of my favorites, and Fielder has to be a part of it in my opinion.
David Ortiz – It’s back to David Ortiz time for a value play, and this time he is on a nice little hot streak. He has hit a HR in 3 out of his last 4 games, with 5 hits in that span, 7 RBI’s, 5 runs and 4 walks. Now I don’t expect 3 HR in 4 games all year, but the RBI’s, runs and walks are more of what I like to see out of him. At this point, Ortiz is more than affordable and today he has a matchup with one of the cheaper pitchers in Williams Perez. Perez has been good this year with a 2.70 ERA, but he has a 1.44 WHIP and has a line to lefties of .274 AVG/.333 OBP/.419 SLG with 2 HR in 62 AB’s. I don’t think a pitcher can maintain success over the course of a year with a WHIP that high, so unless he lowers that, I think teams will start scoring some more runs against him. His home/road splits are also pretty even to go along with a good ERA. Ortiz has a nice line of .288 AVG/.398 OBP/.547 SLG with 9 HR in 139 AB’s. By now we all know Ortiz can’t really hit lefties, but that’s an elite looking line right there for a guy who is pretty cheap. The Red Sox offense has woken up over the last couple days and I think they will keep it going today against Mr. Perez.
Ian Kinsler – Kinsler only has 1 HR on the year, but he still hitting for the good average and getting on base at a nice clip. Tonight he is going against righty Jon Moscot who is one of the cheapest pitchers on the slate, and hasn’t done all that great in either of his two starts. As a righty I would expect Kinsler to do better against lefties, but he actually does do better against righties. He has a line of .289 AVG/.360 OBP/.380 SLG with his only HR on the year against them. I don’t know if it is a change in mentality, but I would expect that HR rate to come up over the rest of the season. His home/road splits are pretty even so he can really hit at any park. There isn’t much of a sample size, but righties have a line against him of .286 AVG/.304 OBP/.476 SLG in 21 AB’s. He has 5 walks in 11 IP so he has been a bit erratic, so Kinsler is the perfect type of player to remain patient against him. He might not have the highest ceiling among 2B today, but I do believe that he has the highest floor and will put up some points tonight.
Jace Peterson – Peterson is another player that is on a major hot streak right now, and is also available at an affordable price point. He has 15 hits in his past 10 games, with 4 doubles, 5 RBI’s, 8 Runs, 6 Walks, and 1 SB. Those are amazing numbers for a player of any price, but a guy as affordable as him makes it that much better. He hits leadoff which is another thing I love about him as he will get that extra at bat more often than not. He is going against the righty Rick Porcello who is probably Boston’s best pitcher, but doesn’t scare me away. Peterson has a line of .286 AVG/.362 OBP/.394 SLG against righties this year so he has been pretty hot all year vs. them. His road numbers are down which is a bummer, but with that insane hot streak, I can’t see myself passing on him. Porcello has a 5.26 ERA on the year which is not good, and has given up a line to lefties of .278 AVG/.324 OBP/.463 SLG with 7 HR in 162 AB’s. He does have 60 K’s in 75 IP which kills my theory of a straight contact pitcher, but he is giving up a solid average to lefties so they are getting plenty of hits on them. A Braves stack would have been awesome yesterday, and today looks like another good day for them.
Troy Tulowitzki – Against most top end pitchers I wouldn’t pick him for the price, but Kuechel isn’t a strikeout pitcher, and Tulo does damage against left handed pitching. In 45 AB’s against lefties this year, he has a line of .422 AVG/.426 OBP/.711 SLG with 3 HR in 45 AB’s. That SLG % really sticks out as anything over .700 is pretty amazing. He might not be walking much against them, but with 19 hits in those 45 AB’s, what isn’t to love. He has cooled down off of his major hot streak that he was on, and isn’t playing at Coors, but great hitters can do damage anywhere. As long as he isn’t hitting pitches to straight away center and that gigantic hill, I think he will be alright today. Kuechel has been very good all year long especially against left handed batters. Righties at least have a line of .211 AVG/.268 OBP/.278 SLG with 4 HR in 270 AB’s. I’m not going to lie and spin it around and say those are good numbers because they aren’t, but compared to how lefties are doing, they are alright. He is expensive as always, but against left handed pitching I don’t mind spending up for Tulo in GPP’s tonight.
Wilmer Flores – As is the case in most starts, I really like right handed batters against Mark Buerhle. Flores is no different, and I find him as one of the best value plays for any position tonight. On the season, he has a line of .294 AVG/.368 OBP/.588 SLG with 3 HR in 34 AB’s against lefties, and has 10 HR overall. Those are great power numbers from a shortstop, and when he is hitting a HR roughly once every 11 AB’s against lefties, that makes a guy like him such a good value play. The Mets may have a bunch of lefties at the top of their lineup, but look for guys like Flores and Cuddyer to do some damage. Just a quick look at Buerhle, he has a line of .289 AVG/.320 OBP/.436 SLG with 5 HR allowed in 225 AB’s against righties. While a HR would be nice tonight for Flores, he has shown the ability to get hits and walks, which is exactly what he’s going to have to do against Buerhle tonight. Look for the Mets to score some runs, with the middle of the lineup doing more of the damage.
Josh Donaldson – With none of the elite 3B having great matchups tonight, I have to go with the guy I consider to be the best one in the game. I’ve said this before, but I think Donaldson is going to be in the running for the AL MVP at the end of the year. He has helped the Blue Jays to an 11 game winning streak, and I expect them to keep it rolling. He has 14 hits in his last 10 games along with 2 HR, 6 RBI’s, 8 runs, 1 walk, and 1 SB. That isn’t even considered much of a hot streak for him, so to put up those “modest” numbers is impressive. He is going against Noah Syndergaard who has struggled in his last two starts giving up 10 hits in each. Righties are hitting .311 against him and while he might not walk a lot of guys (2 in 74 AB’s against righties), that’s just too high of an average for a pitcher to be giving up. Now he mashes lefties better and hits better at home, but Donaldson has raised his line against righties to .293 AVG/.352 OBP/.534 SLG with 13 HR in 208 AB’s. That line and HR rate are still just good enough to spend on Donaldson today, especially with the struggles of the pitcher.
Joey Gallo – He is going to be a stud one day in the majors and is well on his way to it already. He has 4 HR on the year already and just looks to be that guy at the plate. Against right handed pitchers he has a line of .417 AVG/.517 OBP/.833 SLG with 3 HR in 24 AB’s. His home splits are equally amazing with a line of .350 AVG/.480 OBP/1.000 SLG with 4 HR in 20 AB’s. I get that the sample size is small, but those numbers are truly spectacular. To me, it honestly wouldn’t matter which pitcher was going tonight, but with Frias going, I just see no way you can’t pick him. Frias is allowing a .370 AVG and .420 OBP against righties as it is, so if you combine those stats, you are looking at a monster game tonight. Gallo has HR in his last 2 games, and it’s one of those games where I am expecting him to hit one tonight and extend the streak to 3 games.
Joc Pederson – This is really the year of the rookie so far, and he has been the best of the bunch so far in my opinion. He is still holding his spot at the top of the Dodgers lineup which is one of the two best offenses this year with the Blue Jays. His AVG may be a bit low at .235 against righties, but he has more than made up for it with 14 HR in 166 AB’s. Also, for as many HR that have been hit at Dodger Stadium this year, he actually has 9 HR in 92 AB’s away from home which is an incredible rate. It may be inflated thanks to that series vs. the Rockies, but it’s not like HR’s can’t be hit at Arlington. He is going against Yovani Gallardo who has been pretty darn good this year. He has a split against left handed batters of .233 AVG/.286 OBP/.387 SLG with 5 HR in 150 AB’s. He has also pitched better at home which is a little surprising but that’s alright. With Joc, all it takes is one at bat, and tonight I can see the Dodgers lefties finally getting to Gallardo.
Shin Soo Choo – He is finally looking like the player that got the big pay day, and the player who was truly awesome for a few years there. As you can see, there is a trend of Rangers lefties tonight against Frias who can’t seem to get them out. Choo has a line of .275 AVG/.355 OBP/.490 SLG with 7 HR in 149 AB’s. Those numbers are all coming up, and with his problems at the beginning of the year, they are great when you really think about it. He also hits much better at home with a line of .311 AVG/.394 OBP/.544 SLG with 5 of his 8 HR coming there as well. He isn’t on a major hot streak or anything, but with Mr. Deshields out for a bit, look for Choo to possibly move back into the leadoff hole, and to score some points against the struggling Frias.
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